To hear Abdiel’s poetic, and even prophetic, response to the most recent political developments, scroll down to the first entries below, where sample poems are listed in reverse chronological order.
Abdiel began writing these “polemics” in 2001 after George W. Bush was installed in the White House by Supreme-Court decree. Since then, the collection has grown into the three-volume Verses Versus Empire series — covering in turn the Bush, Obama, and Trump eras — and is continually updated.
Exploring similar themes, Abdiel’s “little epic”, Obama’s Dream, also looks at political theatre through the lens of poetry while exposing the traits of empire handed over to Donald Trump.
You can get a FREE copy of Obama’s Dream, and be first to know about future giveaways, by joining Abdiel’s Readers List on the FREE Book! page.
Politically engaged readers will also find much to enjoy in Abdiel’s signature epic poem, Elijah, where the great Old-Testament prophet speaks truth to power and takes on the wickedness of Queen Jezebel herself!
on Trump's next pick for CIA director. March 2018.
Even Queen Margaret, she who dipped a cloth
And then the damning evidence destroyed –
1 Shakespeare, 3 Henry VI, I.iv.
2 This detail appeared in a ProPublica article, written by Ray Bonner, about Haspel’s role when chief of base at a CIA black site in Thailand. ProPublica later retracted this particular assertion in a correction. To hear how Haspel earned the sobriquet of “Bloody Gina”, go to Democracy Now! broadcast of Mar. 14, 2018.
|Phoney Terrorism Event Triggers World War III||
From March 2018.
Like any junkie desperate to get his next fix, the U.S. government was willing to go to any lengths to satisfy its war addiction, this time with Iran in its sights. And the rise of Donald Trump, campaigning on a platform of racism, xenophobia, and hatred, afforded the most violent elements in America’s power apparatus their long-cherished opportunity to unleash military power against another oil-rich state.
But a new pretext would be required, another terrorist attack. And it would have to be even bigger and more spectacular than “9/11”. Though the official version of that day’s events was riddled with plot holes, the George W. Bush Administration managed to find ready cheerleaders among mainstream media who would shore up the dodgy narrative and promote the 2003 invasion of Iraq while overlooking the fervent anti-war protests of millions of U.S. citizens.
This time, however, some media outlets, alienated by Trump’s relentless hostility towards them during and after the 2016 election campaign, would need to witness an attack of such unprecedented shock and outrage that they would swallow their own scepticism.
The use of “false-flag” terrorism to direct U.S. foreign policy had a long history by then. George Orwell even identified the tactic in his novel, 1984, in a conversation between its protagonist Winston, and Winston’s lover Julia:
Once when he happened in some connection to mention the war against Eurasia, she startled him by saying casually that in her opinion the war was not happening. The rocket bombs which fell daily on London were probably fired by the Government of Oceania itself, “just to keep people frightened.”
But this new attack within the U.S. homeland would also have to include nuclear material. That way, the Trump Administration could claim Iran, implicated by the convenient discovery of intact documents next to the new Ground Zero, was in violation of the nuclear treaty it had signed with Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama. Trump even let slip in a March 2018 press conference, immediately after firing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who had favoured rapprochement with Iran, that, “We disagreed on things. When you look at the Iran deal, I think it’s terrible. I guess he thought it was OK. I wanted to either break it or do something, and he felt a little bit differently. So we were not really thinking the same.”
Trump then said of Tillerson’s replacement, CIA director, Mike Pompeo, “we have a very similar thought process.” And Pompeo, for his part, had already described the nations of Iran and North Korea as existential threats to the United States and amply demonstrated his sycophantic devotion to Trump, pandering to his patron’s most violent instincts.
Thus, with Tillerson’s removal, Trump signalled his determination to root out all vestige of dissent from a State Department already decimated by firings, resignations, and the Administration’s failure to make fresh appointments to fill vacant positions.
The use of nuclear materials also underpinned Trump’s claim a nuclear “threshold” had been crossed and his long cherished, and openly expressed, desire to deploy nuclear weapons in military conflict.
There was a perverted logic too in the choice of a Delta Airlines jet to perform its parabolic plunge into New York City. After all, among the major U.S. carriers, the political capital of American Airlines and United Airlines had already been expended for 9/11. This choice of Delta also vented the ire provoked among violent elites when, in the wake of yet another high-school massacre in February 2018 — this time in Parkland, Florida — the airline cancelled a promotional discount it was giving to members of the National Rifle Association.1
In the wake of this fresh attack, Congress readily stamped official policy with its seal of approval, and politicians once given to criticizing the White House occupant as a racist warmongering psycopath now conferred on him the status of saint and saviour, issuing a call to support the country and support the president. Riding high on the adulation, Trump, having artfully avoided any military service of his own, took on the mantle of “Commander-in-Chief”, and sent out his ministers of destruction.
Meanwhile, those who protested these developments, insisting the evidence pointing to Iran was highly dubious, to say the least, if not entirely fraudulent, were denounced as “anti-American” and silenced through denouncements and disappearances, prosecutions and prison terms, even inexplicable suicides. And Congress abetted all this by passing a series of emergency “security” measures allowing for arbitrary arrest, detention, and surveillance, combined with “enhanced” or “rough” interrogation techniques, to “keep the country safe.” Though these openly violated the Constitution as well as international human-rights law, policymakers insisted the measures were temporary and would sunset once the ill-defined terrorist threat were removed.
Though Congress was initially unwilling to sanction use of intercontinental ballistic missiles, it did give the green light to use of “regional” nuclear weapons, based on the testimony of loyal generals who claimed civilian casualties would be kept to a minimum by the use of highly targeted “precision” strikes. But of course, once other nuclear powers got involved, the escalation of firepower soon followed.
Now that this scenario has been set out, the author expresses his heartfelt wish it shall prove a self-negating prophecy and concludes with the following words of Orwell, also taken from 1984:
The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labor. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent. Even when weapons of war are not actually destroyed, their manufacture is still a convenient way of expending labor power without producing anything that can be consumed… In principle the war effort is always so planned as to eat up any surplus that might exist after meeting the bare needs of the population. In practice the needs of the population are always underestimated, with the result that there is a chronic shortage of half the necessities of life… And at the same time, the consciousness of being at war, and therefore in danger, makes the handing-over of all power to a small caste seem the natural, unavoidable condition of survival… It does not matter whether the war is actually happening, and, since no decisive victory is possible, it does not matter whether the war is going well or badly. All that is needed is that a state of war should exist… Meanwhile no Inner Party member wavers for an instant in his mystical belief that the war is real, and that it is bound to end victoriously…
All members of the Inner Party believe in this coming conquest as an article of faith. It is to be achieved either by gradually acquiring more and more territory and so building up an overwhelming preponderance of power, of by the discovery of some new and unanswerable weapon. The search for new weapons continues unceasingly, and is one of the very few remaining activities in which the inventive or speculative type of mind can find any outlet.
The two aims of the Party are to conquer the whole surface of the earth and to extinguish once and for all the possibility of independent thought.
1 Delta Airlines is based in Atlanta, Georgia. In response to Delta’s move, Georgia’s legislature retaliated by eliminating a $50 million sales tax exemption on jet fuel.
demi-Sonnet on the ouster of Rex Tillerson as U.S. secretary of state. March 2018.
Not that Rex Tillerson’s a saint, although
1 In a tweet of March 13, 2018, Trump announced firing Tillerson and replacing him with CIA director, Mike Pompeo.
2 Speaking outside the White House on the morning of Mar. 13, Trump said, “We’re getting very close to having the Cabinet and other things that I want.” He then said of Rex Tillerson, “We disagreed on things. When you look at the Iran deal, I think it’s terrible. I guess he thought it was OK. I wanted to either break it or do something, and he felt a little bit differently. So we were not really thinking the same. With Mike, Mike Pompeo, we have a very similar thought process.”
3 Gina Haspel was directly involved in the CIA’s torture program under the George W. Bush administration. She was responsible for running a secret CIA black site in Thailand where prisoners were subjected to torture, including waterboarding, and went on to destroy the evidence. The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald tweeted on Mar. 13, “Haspel… didn’t just oversee the Bush CIA’s black site but directly participated in the horrific torture of detainees. She also participated in the particularly gruesome torture of detainee Abu Zubaydah.”
4 According to Sir Martin Gilbert’s official biography, Winston Churchill said, “Meeting jaw to jaw is better than war.”
demi-Sonnet on U.S. Supreme-Court ruling in Jennings v. Rodriguez. From February 2018.
Indefinite detention without hearing
1 On Feb. 27, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-3 that federal authorities can indefinitely detain some immigrants and asylum seekers without a bond hearing. Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Sonia Sotomayor dissented, while Elena Kagan recused herself.
2 Which includes the language, “No person shall… be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
3 Shakespeare, Hamlet, III.iv.
4 The five names supporting the ruling were: Neil Gorsuch, John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy, and Samuel Alito, with Alito writing the majority opinion.
on the 'Valentine's Day Massacre' at a Florida high school. February 2018
Another high-school massacre, and Trump
1 On Feb. 14, 2018, a gunman wielding a shop-bought AR-15 military-style rifle killed 14 students and three teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. It was the 18th school shooting of 2018 alone. On Feb. 16, Trump tweeted, “So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!” On Feb. 21, he held a listening session at the White House in which he advocated “concealed carry, where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them. They’d go for special training…”
|The Body Politicked||
A kind of chemotherapy’s at work
They talk of “battling” cancer, thus adopting
Simplistic, superficial, such a mindset
on Trump's expletive to describe certain countries. From January 2018
The subtext is: not-white, not-welcome. Nay,
Our souls descendant from eternity,
And so he says a steaming pile of it
1 In a meeting with legislators on the subject of DACA, Trump reportedly said, “Why do we want all these people from Africa here? They’re shithole countries. We should have more people from Norway”.
2 Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, V.i.
on Trump's latest tweets regarding North Korea. From January 2018
on the indictment of Ahed Tamimi, a 16-year-old Palestinian girl, for "aggravated assault" after she slapped an Israeli soldier in the occupied West Bank. From January 2018
You’d think a teenage girl, enraged, in grief
But not for Palestinians, on whose land
1 1 Samuel 17.
2 Romans 5:18.
on the banning of words by the Trump administration. From December 2017
Orwell foresaw this day, when government
See Washington Post article of Dec. 15, 2017, CDC gets list of forbidden words: Fetus, transgender, diversity, by Lena H. Sun and Juliet Eilperin.
1 In his poem, To Roy Campbell.
on the FCC's vote, orchestrated by Trump appointee, Chairman Ajit Pai, to destroy net neutrality. From December 2017
To please his corporate masters, Ajit Pai,
Presents a narrow fast lane they may take,
A greased back-channel for his master’s ride,
Some 20 million people, looking on, 2
A mine to plunder at a sordid depth,
On Dec. 14, 2017, the five-member Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3‑2 to repeal rules established in 2015 to safeguard “net neutrality”. These rules required internet service providers (ISPs) to treat web content equally and not block or prioritize some content over others in return for payment.
1 ISP stands for Internet Service Provider. In an inverse.com article of Dec. 15, 2017, Alasdair Wilkins reports that telecom giants Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, and Charter “are the ISPs for about 76 percent of the 94.5 million internet subscribers in the United States. And when about half of all households only have access to a single provider, these companies hold enormous power in shaping an internet without net neutrality, the previously longstanding principle that ISPs could not set up a tiered internet of slow and fast lanes, throttle access to certain content, or charge either consumers or sites more for preferential access.”
2 Prior to this extremely unpopular ruling, more than 20 million people had submitted comments to the FCC.
on U.S. Senate passage of the tax bill. From December 2017
Like overbloated stars suck gravity,
But one Republican refused to back
With half the lobbyists of Washington
They stripped protections of the Wilderness,
The president’s enrichment bloating further,
But just as greedy planetary bodies
The Senate passed the bill in the early-morning hours of Dec. 2, 2017 on a vote of 51 to 49. Every Democrat, and a single Republican, Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, voted against it. Republican leaders only made the final text of the nearly 500-page bill available a few hours before the vote. The final draft included handwritten notes scribbled in the margin. For more, see Democracy Now! segment of Dec. 4, 2017, Rep. Keith Ellison: GOP Tax Bill Would Reorder Society & Create “Hereditary Aristocracy” for Rich.
on the recent surge in sexual-assault allegations. From November 2017
Now presidents and former presidents
1 The “Me Too” campaign, initiated in 2006 by community organizer Tarana Burke, encourages those who have been subjected to sexual assault to share their experiences. In October 2017, as the predations of film producer Harvey Weinstein became widely known, the #MeToo hashtag exploded on social media.
on the Las Vegas massacre of Oct. 1, 2017
A single gunman’s slain a multitude,
No background checks required, purchased online,
Though individuals acquire arsenals,
A sick psychosis still enjoys free rein,
Talk not of Climate Change after a storm,
1 The following day, Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said from the White House, “There’s a time and place for a political debate, but now is the time to unite as a country. There is currently an open and ongoing law-enforcement investigation. A motive is yet to be determined, and it would be premature for us to discuss policy when we don’t fully know all the facts or what took place last night.” Her response echoes that of political-establishment figures after previous gun massacres in the United States.
2 On June 14, 2017, in Alexandria, Virginia, gunman James Hodgkinson attacked a baseball practise for the annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity, scheduled for the following day. Republican member of Congress Steve Scalise was among several people shot. Hodgkinson was felled in a shootout with officers and died later that day. Scalise underwent surgery and returned to Congress on Sept. 28, 2017.
3 Echoing a tweet by author and activist Naomi Klein, of Oct. 2, 2017: “Don’t talk about guns after a massacre. Or climate change after storms. Or austerity after firetrap buildings burn. Talk when no one listens.” The “firetrap” she is referring to is the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in north Kensington, London. On June 14, 2017, the building became engulfed in fire, causing the deaths of more than 80 people trapped inside.
on the G20 in Hamburg, Germany, July 2017
Amid a chamber orchestra of violence
1 See Democracy Now! interview with Croatian philosopher Srećko Horvat of July 7, 2017, where he describes “what the German legal philosopher Carl Schmitt would call ‘Ausnahmezustand’ – namely, ‘state of exception’ – which means that civil liberties, even peaceful protests, are approached by violent police actions.”
on the psychological condition of Mr. Trump, July 2017
Destroy lest ye be inwardly destroyed,
Boast of your size if you are feeling small,
Lest ye feel inwardly inadequate,
And if you lack the wit to empathize,
No reference point for truth outside yourself,
Such infernal commandments are in play
The narcissism, grandiosity,
Caligula and Nero would applaud
1 These lines play on Christ’s famous admonition to “Judge not lest ye be judged…” (Matthew 7:1).
2 See Letter to the Editor in New York Times, Feb. 13, 2017 signed by 33 mental-health practitioners. And truthdig article by Paul Street, Beyond the Madness of King Donald, May 15, 2017.
3 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4.
He takes payoffs from foreign governments,
|Size Matters, Mr. Trump!||
Obama’s measured at 84
Of course, there are “alternative facts”
You’re so outraged that the press reported
The “biggest in history” your spokesman claims
2 On the morning of Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, one day after Trump’s inauguration, The New York Times tweeted a photo unfavourably comparing the crowd size at Trump’s inauguration with that of President Obama’s 2009 inauguration, which drew a record 1.8 million people. Later that day, Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer angrily stormed into the press room and falsely claimed more people had attended or watched on TV than any other inauguration in U.S. history. He said, “These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong.”
The following day, on the Meet the Press TV broadcast, Counsellor to the President, Kellyanne Conway, said to host, Chuck Todd, that Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer gave “alternative facts” about the crowd size for Trump’s inauguration.
3 On Oct. 7, 2016, The Washington Post released a 2005 video tape in which Trump boasted to Hollywood Access reporter Billy Bush,
You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful … I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. I just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.
4 On Jan. 21, 2017, his first day in office, Trump declared in a speech to the CIA, “I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on Earth.”
|Black and Blue||
on the death in police custody of U.S. Army Sergeant, James Brown, during a two-day jail sentence in El Paso, Texas. From May 2015
“I’m choking on my blood!” and “I can’t breathe!”
Enforced injection, suffocation, beating,
Sergeant James Brown, like so many black men
The police are claiming that his death was caused
And when long-bottled anger surfaces,
1 See Democracy Now! segments: Shocking Video: Texas Soldier Dies After Telling Jail Guards He Couldn’t Breathe 20 Times (May 15, 2015); and Sgt. James Brown, 26, Survived Two Tours in Iraq Only to Die Begging for His Life in Texas Jail (May 20, 2015).
Sonnet on acts of vandalism by "Islamic State" at the Mosul Museum and Public Library in Iraq. From February 2015
Just how much hatred can a human heart
on eighth-centenary celebrations of Magna Carta. From February 2015
Since bad King John, eight centuries ago,
That none should be imprisoned without trial,
The hatemonger Theresa May, who should
The U.S. government, especially,
1 Theresa May, as Britain’s home secretary, announced this intention at the Conservative party conference, Sept. 30, 2013.
2 Notions of “left-wing” and “right-wing” politics are increasingly meaningless. They reflect outdated political discourse based on a polarized pendulum swing between rich and poor, management and workers. The key issues for humanity – human rights, war and peace, justice, and environmental protection – transcend, or should transcend, these arguments.
Sonnet on the Christmas Truce of the First World War and its depiction in Christmas advertising by U.K. supermarket chain, Sainsbury's. From December 2014
The Christmas Truce, with “Stille Nacht” begun
on Japan's nuclear disaster at Fukushima following the earthquake and tsunami of Mar. 11, 2011
Sixty-six years since Little Boy unleashed
No nuclear fluke ensued at Fukushima;
Insidious sickness impregnates the air,
And like most corporate players caught red-handed,
The USA, with twice the cancerous crop
The breeze blows where it listeth, 1 why not then
1 John 3:8.
On U.S. broadcaster Fox News. From January 2015
“Bomb! Hate! Bomb! Hate! Bomb! Hate! Kill!”
O’Reilly, Kelly, Pirro, Sean, 1
Murdoch’s hand inside each puppet,
The oil lands are Moslem most
‘Til judgment come to Earth one day
1 Bill O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly, Jeanine Pirro, Sean Hannity.
2 2 Corinthians 11:14-15.
3 Matthew 15:17.
On BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. From June 2010
It takes but a moment, by a trauma inflicted,
So with the oil now gushing in
Yet long in the making was this crisis afoot
With loopholes spread wide, the government invites
Blame Obama, blame Bush, blame Clinton, blame all.
of free-flowing fraud in the veins of power,
1 Shakespeare, Othello, I.i.
The poet's incredulity when Obama is awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. From October 2009
I checked the dateline twice: October 9th.
Concealing torture practices from view,
O History’s muse, report what you have seen:
Obama shows up late to climate talks
Of service, sacrifice, and strength of arms
Perhaps the noble Norway nobles hoped
From February 2006
For sovereignty, “security”,
They crucify Christianity
Egregious in effrontery,
"Bush", "Blair", "Basra", "Baghdad". What could a poet do with that? From April 2003
Those bosom-buddies, Bush and Tony Blair, 1
1 British prime minister at the time.
|A Conversation Between Bush and God||
From February 2003
Rejoice! The day is come when every soul,
Now, having been called “Mr. President”
Just then, a mighty angel bellows out:
Affronted that the spirit knows him not,
“I warred on Evil, hunted terrorists,
With that, the angel’s countenance grows calm.
“Myself in haste will take you to the Lord
Bush then is led toward a rainbow light,
All Heaven to His glory homage shows,
“Let Judgment of the sheep and goats begin,
With squinting eyes, George proffers forth his hand:
A gasp through the assembled throng is heard
“But to my messages that he conveyed,
“I should allow that such an ass intrude
“I thirsted yet you took away my drink
Blinking in shock, his hand outstretched in vain,
“But Lord, when did I do these things to you?
“And more, you starved the people of Iraq,
“But Lord, you got me wrong, I did not act
“My sons and daughters, in mine image made,
“I know your heart: to be like God in power,
“Now is the end of the aggressor’s reign,
“I see your dull wit cannot grasp my theme
1 An echo of the famous, and ultimately untenable, claim by former president and George W. Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush, as he accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for president at the 1988 Republican National Convention. He said, “Read my lips: no new taxes!” But, as president in 1990, he agreed to a bipartisan budget that increased taxes.
2 Ezekiel 1:26-28; Revelation 1:15.
3 Revelation 8:1.
4 Matthew 25:31-46.
5 John 1:1-3.
6 Luke 1:8-19, 26-37.
7 Daniel 9:20-23.
8 Matthew 23:34-38.
9 Luke 12:8-9; Matthew 7:21-23.
10 Luke 6:32-34.
11 Matthew 23:23-33.
12 Matthew 22:29.
13 Romans 10:6-7.
14 Isaiah 14:9-15.
15 Isaiah 14:3-6.
|On Her Majesty's Secret Service||
James Bond is handed his mission to hunt Osama bin Laden. From October 2001
“Miss Moneypenny! Ravishing as ever!”
“You’d best get in there, James!” “Why Moneypenny,
Door opens. Bond. Her Majesty’s agent,
Deep in the secret testing area,
You know the rest: Bond always gets his man,
1 The Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion.
2 Exodus 4:1-5, 7:8-12.
Post "9/11". From October 2001
Alas! Three weeks have passed, none else alive.
Twelve fathom deep, into a stinking hole
For a short while, a gothic site was kept:
Now flint-faced firemen their tears have shed
How did they dare? How did they dare to maim
We genteel citizens in Union Square
And I, observing from a far-off screen,
1 Psalm 23:1, John 10:11.
2 Until demolished, a triangular section of the World Trade Center wall, in appearance like a row of organ pipes, was left standing after the towers collapsed.
3 2 Thessalonians 2:7.
4 His poem, The Borderers.
5 Genesis 11:4-7.
6 Henry V, IV.iii.69.
|George W.'s Hoedown||
... as he celebrates his ascendancy to the White House. From January 2001
Well I’m elected President,
I have all my daddy’s friends
This is the American dream,
|In Verse Described!||
Introducing the entire three-volume series.
The intellectuals of our dangerous age,
To tear down strongholds of the powers-that-be
For your free copy of Obama’s Dream, enter your email address here.